The route also skirts around the western flank of Dartmoor, offering superb views of Cornwall and the surrounding area. On top of that there are many local links and spurs to explore. Largely tracing the course of former railway lines, the route takes you through tunnels and across the breathtaking viaducts and bridges given to us by Victorian railway engineers. Leaving Ilfracombe, the route travels south and takes you on a traffic-free path before joining quiet roads that provide superb views of Braunton. At Braunton the route starts a mile traffic-free section on almost entirely level former railway lines beside the beautiful Taw and Torridge estuaries via Barnstaple, Bideford and Great Torrington to the villages of Petrockstowe and Meeth. This section of the route is known as the Tarka Trail and is perfect for families and less experienced cyclists.

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Cycling UK continues to support the UK to cycle This remains true during this difficult period with the ongoing threat of coronavirus Covid The climb out of Allenheads By Rob Ainsley Saturday, 1 December Coast-to-coast alternatives C2C veteran Rob Ainsley profiles the six Sustrans routes across Northern England, plus another for mountain bikers and some do-it-yourself options.

Up at the thorax of England, Irish and North Seas are only 80 miles apart. A coast-to-coast jaunt packs scenery, adventure and sheer fun into one long weekend — and can be as easy or challenging as you like. Each takes three to four days. The last third, as reward, is all off-road mostly rail-trail and gently downhill with, usually, a big fat tailwind. Sturdy tourers, hybrids, or touring-friendly MTBs cope easily. Road alternatives for the handful of roughish tracks exist for audax-style riders, though they may prefer simply plotting their own fast, tarmac route.

Rider camaraderie is great, and the route generates stories. On one of my C2Cs, I lost a roll of film from my rucksack off-road up Hartside. Another rider found it next day, developed it, and sent a photo of what he guessed was the owner to a bike magazine. Someone recognised me, and I got my photos back! This needs experienced, fit MTBers with strong machines, and rucksacks with basic survival stuff in addition to a change of clothes, spares and tools, water and food: the weather changes up in the fells can catch anyone out.

I preferred walking the Wainwright to doing it this way — I want to watch the scenery, not the singletrack — but for adrenaline junkies, this is the most thrilling way to cross Britain. Order the information pack or find out more about it online at www. The main interest is the highly scenic middle half, in the remote woods round Kielder Water, by and occasionally the other side of the Scottish border.

Think of this as a good excuse to visit isolated, friendly Northumberland. Spend an extra day or two exploring the forest tracks that circumnavigate Kielder Water with MTB or hybrid. And perhaps, as we did, pubs in villages such as Bellingham From curious Ravenglass and its Roman remains, a coastal wiggle reaches the now-invisible start of the wall at Bowness, amid marshy flats. Near Lanercost, the wall finally appears in its lumpy grandeur for several miles. The most awesome wall sections, the last, are around Once Brewed hostel.

After characterful Hexham and its fine abbey, lanes and rail-trails and a bridge curio at Ovingham take you into lively Newcastle. Until Ripon, that is, when everything flatlines. Trans Pennine Trail TPT Southport to Hornsea miles The easiest and most traffic-free of the lot: a patchwork of rail-trails, waterside paths and lanes that rarely require your bottom chainring.

Day-riding families on MTBs, or multi-ability groups, will come away happy; experienced tourers doing the lot, less so. The fabulous scenery — weather permitting! And DIY options The long final traffic-free descent into Ilfracombe is a real highlight. But, in the spirit of Wainwright, why not devise your own route?

My own best coast-to-coast experience was a spontaneous, on-road, nose-following tour from Ravenglass to Ravenscar, north of Scarborough, last March: three utterly blissful days of Lakes, Dales and Moors.

You can hardly go wrong in Britain. And we all know the best way to explore it But during easterlies, or for return-trips, you can easily reverse them. Weather a lottery: March could be t-shirt hot, July drizzly. Rideable in mild winter conditions. Book early. Camping possible. Least favourite sections Long slog up Hartside; rough track out of Rookhope. Further info.


C2C Route Map

At Renwick, the route swings sharply right, and a red warning sign marks the start of the long, four-mile haul to the top. Despite its reputation, Hartside is not the hardest part of the C2C, and certainly not the steepest. But slow and steady wins the day. The descent is long, fast and hairpin-free. The three remaining miles to Garrigill are more taxing, a series of little valleys imposing an undulating character. Garrigill 79mi Sorry, Hartside.


Coast-to-coast alternatives



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